Bob Gregor has moved his Singer Sewing Shoppe from Jackson Road to a much larger location on South Maple, across the street from Kroger. He’ll use the added space to host sewing and quilting classes that bring in customers for the new and restored sewing machines that he sells.
Gregor grew up in the sewing machine business–his father owned two stores on the west side of the state, and he’s had this shop for thirteen years. Despite the name, he’s not tied to the Singer brand anymore; he also sells Juki machines. For years, he says, Juki has been making most Singer machines anyway. Singer, says Gregor, closed its last factory a few years ago, around the time it was taken private and combined with Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff into a company called SVP Worldwide.
In the last fifteen years, the sewing machine industry has been enlivened and revolutionized by computers. In 1995, Singer came out with a machine that could be hooked up to your home computer to sew computer-generated designs. “Today, it’s wireless, so you can have a computer in one room and a sewing machine in the other,” says Gregor. “You can scan in a photo, and the machine will embroider it.” He sells sewing machines, old and new, for $100 to $5,000.
Singer Sewing Shoppe, 605 S. Maple. 332-7311. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sun. www.singersewingshoppe.com
When empty storefronts go begging at Briarwood this time of year, the shopping center offers deals on short-term leases to stores that specialize in seasonal merchandise. “It adds interest to the mall and keeps the center full,” says general manager Ida Hendrix.
Two stores took advantage of the opportunity to sign leases that run through early 2010. Woodland Creek took the spot near Sears that’s been vacant since the Bachrach menswear store went belly-up last summer. The Traverse City company specializes in rustic furniture and decor made from exotic woods from around the world–its flagship store claims to be the largest rustic and cabin furniture store in the country. An employee says if the Briarwood store does well over the holidays, there’s a chance it’ll stick around at least a little while longer.
York Country Designs is also in the Sears corridor, and it, too, specializes in home decor (though not furniture). Founded in Athens, Michigan, more than twenty years ago, it has only four full-time locations, in Adrian, Jackson, Okemos, and Midland. The company opens a few seasonal stores each year, but manager Niki Jarret says this is the first time it’s opened one in Briarwood. This location carries only holiday items like decorations, tree ornaments, cards, and gift bags. But like Woodland Creek, Jarret says it’s possible York Country Designs will re-up for a longer lease. “It’s kind of touch and go. If we do well, we might.”
Briarwood also has two new long-term tenants. The Walking Company, next to Macy’s, sells ECCO, Mephisto, Ariat, Earth shoes, and other brands. Windsor in the JCPenney wing sells apparel and accessories “that fit the life and work styles of today’s junior and contemporary woman.” For that, read “high school”–a lot of the California company’s dresses are for homecoming or prom.
Woodland Creek, 761-1472. York Country Designs, 913-0752. The Walking Company, 997-9169. Windsor, 864-0232. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Hours extended for holiday shopping.
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